Acadiana deacon to perform Easter Vigil with pope

Deacon Patrick Broussard, of Lafayette, will serve beside Pope Francis during Saturday’s Easter Vigil at the Vatican.

Broussard, 29, said his name was drawn out of a hat for the honor of serving as one of three principle deacons to the pope during the Mass, which will be broadcast worldwide.

“I am obviously very excited about the opportunity to serve with the Holy Father,” Broussard said in an email from Rome. “I am, however, a little nervous because of the attention the event draws — and because the working language will be Italian.”

Each year, the deacons for the Easter Vigil are chosen from the North American College in Rome, where Broussard has studied for the past four years.

As the deacon of the altar, Broussard said he will assist the pope with the Eucharist. Another deacon will read from the chosen texts and a third will sing the Easter proclamation. Broussard said eight other deacons will help distribute Holy Communion.

Among those who will be in the audience for the service is Broussard’s mother, Barbara Broussard, who flew to Rome on Wednesday.

Patrick Broussard said he hopes the excitement he and friends and family feel about the Mass will be focused on remembering Jesus Christ and his “victory over death.”

Patrick Broussard learned on April 4 — his birthday — that he would aid Pope Francis at the vigil.

“What a birthday present, huh?” said his father, Steve Broussard, of Lafayette.

The call to the priesthood did not come to Patrick Broussard until after studying civil engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. During college, he regularly attended noon Mass at Our Lady of Wisdom on campus and prayed often about what God wanted from his life.

Broussard said whenever he asked that question, he felt God was “inviting” him to the priesthood.

“I would see this invitation through reading Scripture and having a particular passage strike me — especially the one in the Gospel about the rich young man who Jesus told to sell everything and to follow him,” Patrick Broussard said.

After finishing his degree at UL-Lafayette, he was offered two scholarships to continue studying engineering and planned to attend Texas A&M University.

“But when it came time to make that decision, I decided that I had to give the seminary a try before I could truly be happy,” he said.

His decision surprised his family, said Steve Broussard, who once told his son he would be a great husband and father and could dedicate himself to the church as a layperson.

But, his dad recalled, Patrick told him: “If I’m going to be that involved with the church, I’m going to be married to the church.”

The family supported his decision right away, Steve Broussard said.

“He has a large heart and he loves people and loves the Lord,” Steve Broussard said.

Patrick Broussard attended seminary in Covington and was chosen to study in Rome, his father said. In June, he will return home to be ordained as a priest at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette.

“He’s ready to come home,” Steve Broussard said. “He has really enjoyed and taken advantage of his four years in Rome, but he’s ready to get to work. He said Acadiana is home, and he’s ready to come home and preach the Gospel.”